Oregon State Correctional Institution partners with Corban University and Paid In Full Oregon

Pictured above: Heidi Steward, Acting Director – DOC, Tom Kohl, Founder – Paid In Full, and Tom Cornman, President- Corban University

Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC), Corban University, and Paid In Full Oregon partnered to bring a four-year Bachelor of Science degree program to Oregon State Correctional Institution (OSCI). Corban University is a private university in Salem, Oregon, accredited by the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities.

Paid In Full Oregon is a non-profit organization founded through a partnership with DOC and Corban University “to provide adults in custody (AICs) a fully accredited bachelor’s degree; potentially impacting the prison population throughout the State of Oregon.” Paid in Full Oregon raised all funds for this program, which started in the fall of 2019.

Twenty-five students are enrolled in this voluntary program each year at OSCI. Program graduates will earn a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts with an emphasis in Psychology, Social Service, and Leadership.

The program has the potential to bring about positive transformation for AICs – both the peer mentors who complete the program, and those who may need their guidance.

Four AICs have graciously agreed to share their stories about how the program has impacted their lives.

Morgan Bohnstedt

The Corban program has personally impacted me in many different ways. First, through its humanities courses, such as its worldview and social justice classes, I have now been exposed to many different ways of life that I was not previously aware of. This has opened my eyes and expanded my knowledge of different perspectives, lifestyles, and views of people that I can now come to respect- I can now look for and have patience with the fact that my way is not the only way.

Second, concluding our Introduction to Art course I find myself looking at the world through a whole new lens. I was never into “art” before but I now have a new-found appreciation for the arts. Whether it be poetry, sculpture, paintings, architecture, music, dance, or just about anything else, I now realize that just about everything in our world is an art in one form or another. Even though I may not personally enjoy it or have interest in it, I can now appreciate it for what it is to the person who created it.

This brings me to the third way the Corban program has impacted me – its theological and biblical courses. Although I’ve been a believer in Christ for many years, through these courses I have learned so much more about my Creator and about myself. I now have a stronger relationship with Him and a new-found respect for myself. Prior to coming to prison and prior to the Corban program I struggled with self-worth and self­ value, both of which I was unconscious of, and both of which had an effect on who I was and what choices I made. The theological and biblical courses, paired with our psychology courses, have truly helped me grow both inwardly and outwardly.

I don’t believe that any one of these courses could’ve had an impact on me in and of itself, but all of these courses combined with the atmosphere, the professors, the OOOC staff, the sponsors, Corban University, and the great people at Paid in Full Oregon, have all helped attribute to who I am today and to who I am still becoming. With that, I say, “Thank You!” If it were not for this program and everyone involved in it, along with their ongoing prayers, I can honestly say that I do not know where I would be today.

In short, this program has helped heal me from the inside out, and it has given me a hope that I never knew was possible. I can only pray that I’ll be able to help others in the way that you’ve all helped me. Again, I say, “Thank You!”

In Christ, Morgan S. Bohnstedt

David McElroy

As a teen, I squandered my academic abilities. Returning to the classroom has given me the chance to prove to myself and others that I’m capable of more than just meeting basic expectations. It’s a chance at vindication. I couldn’t possibly fit everything I’ve learned so far into one letter, but I’d like to share some highlights with you.

This program has spurred me to put myself through treatment for the behavior that led to my incarceration. I’m not content to wait another couple of decades to work on my issues. Currently there is no state program for my class of crimes while I’m incarcerated. While I’ve talked about pursuing this treatment for years, explored some options, I never took the initiative to put my money where my mouth is. Now I’ve bought the books and begun doing the work, and I attribute part of that success to my time here in the Corban program.

As an addict in recovery, and as someone who recognizes a spiritual side to addiction, I have found the focus of this degree to be perfect for my situation. The courses we take are enabling me to be more effective in my own recovery, and in helping others who reach out to me for accountability and encouragement. It also permits me to test the tenets of my faith on my own terms, make up my own mind, and to have a deeper knowledge of my own worldview.

So, thank you for any support you have given this program. Words are not enough, but thank you. I’m going to do my best to be worthy of your investment, and your trust. May you enjoy God’s richest blessings!

Sincerely,

David McElroy

Kevin Christ

I feel that this program is great because it is making me look towards the future and not the past. It has given me the opportunity to move forward and not backward, meaning when I get out I have the tools to stay on the right side of the law and not coming back into the Oregon Department of Corrections. I would like to thank Paid In Full Oregon as well as Corban University, also Oregon’s Department of Corrections because without the Department this program would not be able to happen. I mean we are getting a $100,000 degree for free. I just want to take this time to once again thank the Oregon Department of Corrections, Paid In Full and Corban because with out them this opportunity would not be available.

Kevin Christ

Richard Carlton

Being enrolled in the Corban program has been one of the landmark moments in my search to been understand God and His creation. In the last 3 years the program had taught me how to better understand and interact with those around me. I have also been able to apply the teaching I have learned to help my family grow.

I have to say that the Professors have been outstanding in their willingness to help and interact with the students. Their hard work to keep the program moving during covid has not gone unnoticed. I look forward to see where and how God will lead me and use the knowledge I have gained to help others.

Richard Carlton